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Dev Immunol. Mar 2002; 9(1): 47–54.
PMCID: PMC2276086

Gender Differences in the Allergic Response of Mice Neonatally Exposed to Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Abstract

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been shown to increase allergic sensitization and reactivity and there has been some suggestion that the influence of ETS on the allergic response is dissimilar in males and females. It is to be determined whether gender differences exist in the IgE response to ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization following ETS exposure from the neonatal period through adulthood. To address this thesis, we examined gender differences in OVA sensitization of BALB/c mice housed from birth through adulthood under smoking and nonsmoking conditions. At 6 weeks of age (day 0) all mice were injected i.p. with OVA in aluminum hydroxide adjuvant followed by three 20 min exposures to 1% aerosolized OVA between day 14 and 80. There were significantly (p<0.05) more total and OVA specific IgE and IgG1 in the serum of females compared to males. Moreover, these sex responses, along with eosinophilia, were further enhanced in mice exposed to ETS. There were also significantly more IgE positive cells in the lungs of female, but not male, mice exposed to ETS compared with ambient air (p<0.05). There was also an elevation of Th2 cytokines (IL4, IL5, IL10, and IL13) after re-stimulation of lung homogenates following ETS exposure. These data demonstrate that female animals are significantly more susceptible than males to the influence of ETS on the allergic response.

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